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Zelensky signs law legalizing medical cannabis

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk February 15, 2024 10:07 PM 2 min read
A volunteer takes care of wounded soldiers undergoing treatment and rehabilitation at the Institute of Traumatology and Orthopedics of the National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine, Kyiv, on Feb. 3, 2024. (Ruslan Kaniuka / Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
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Medical cannabis is to be legalized in Ukraine to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and provide pain relief to people with serious illnesses such as cancer, according to a law signed by President Volodymyr Zelensky on Feb. 15.

The law, which was passed in Ukraine's parliament on Dec. 21, 2023, licenses the economic activity of cultivating hemp for medical, industrial, and scientific purposes "to create conditions for expanding patients' access to the necessary treatment of oncological diseases and post-traumatic stress disorders."

The law will come into effect in July 2024, lawmaker Yaroslav Zhelezniak said on Telegram.

Once the law comes into force, the distribution of cannabis for recreational purposes would still be prohibited, and only people with a prescription from a doctor would be able to buy it legally.

The sale and distribution of medical cannabis would be strictly controlled by the government.

"The distribution of marijuana for recreational use will continue to be a crime and will be investigated by the police in accordance with the law," Zhelezniak said.  

"Medicines based on medical cannabis can be obtained only by electronic prescription. This prescription will be prescribed by the doctor to the patient according to his condition, as is currently the case with morphine."

Zelensky voiced support for the legalization of medical cannabis in his address to the parliament on Constitution Day on June 28, 2023.

Efforts to legalize cannabis to help Ukrainian veterans cope with trauma stymied by opposition in parliament
Many Ukrainian soldiers smoke weed to treat their pain, even though few will admit it in public. “I know a lot of guys who lost their legs or arms and turned to cannabis,” a French soldier fighting for Ukraine told the Kyiv Independent, speaking anonymously to avoid backlash. Wounded soldiers
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